Forbes Magazine: Unpaid Intern Lawsuits May Reduce Job Opportunities

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It was once commonplace to forego wages for an opportunity to gain work experience and connections. This may have been put to rest after an influx of unpaid internship lawsuits. Requiring interns to work without pay has been illegal since the minimum wage law was enacted in 1938, however, only recently have unpaid interns brought lawsuits. Between June and August of 2013, unpaid interns filed lawsuits against large corporations, among them: Condé Nast Publications, Warner Music Group, Atlantic Recording, Gawker Media, Fox Entertainment Group, NBC Universal, Viacom, Sony, Universal Music Group, Bad Boy Entertainment, and Donna Karan. Full article.
In June 2013, a New York Federal Court held that Fox Searchlight’s unpaid interns were “employees” subject to the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Fox Searchlight was unable to show the Court that the company provided “something beyond on-the-job training that employees receive” to unpaid interns. The benefits provided by Fox Searchlight, such as “resume listings, job references, and an understanding of how a production office works,” were insufficient to render the employer exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirement for the interns. The Court determined that the unpaid interns added a value to the company and, in turn, took the place of a regularly paid employee. As such, the company must pay these interns minimum wage and overtime.
Leeds Brown Law PC dedicates a large portion of its practice to the area of employment discrimination. If you worked as an unpaid intern and you believe your rights have been violated, it is important to contact an experienced attorney immediately to preserve your rights. The firm has represented individuals throughout Long Island and the New York City area in matters of wage and hour law. For more information, contact Leeds Brown Law at 1-800-585-4658 for a free consultation or visit

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